PUBLISHED: 10:56 AM on Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Protect your smoked fish from spoilage
Keepin' it Fresh

When smoking some of that fish you caught this summer, remember that smoked fish still has some moisture in it, so it needs to be refrigerated to keep it from spoiling. Smoking fish is different from the traditional Native practice of drying fish to preserve it.

Dry fish, or n??ayadi, is like jerky; it has all the moisture removed and can be stored in any cool, dry place for long periods of time. If you want to keep your smoked fish for more that a few days, you'll need to freeze or can it.

Three conditions are needed for spoilage to occur in meat or fish: moisture, air, and above-freezing temperatures. The higher the temperature, the faster the spoilage can occur. One of the best modern ways to keep fish safe and fresh is to vacuum seal it in airtight bags and put it in the freezer.

Native people historically have been very respectful in the way they handle fish. That respect is still important today in the way we keep the fish fresh and clean when it is being prepared for eating or preserving.

Here are three tips for handling fish to avoid spoilage:

1. Always keep fish chilled when not working on it.

2. Clean fish very thoroughly, making sure you remove all blood and internal organs and wash it down completely.

3. Thaw out frozen fish in cold water or in the refrigerator. You may also thaw fish using your microwave oven. Do not thaw frozen fish by leaving it out on the counter or putting it under hot water because the outer portion will thaw quickly and make that part subject to spoilage while the inner portion is still thawing.

Watanabe is chief dietitian at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital.